Italian-Style Eye Round Steaks

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There is a show on the Food Network called Chopped on which chefs are presented with a basket of disparate ingredients and challenged to prepare a dish using all of them within a set time. The results are put before panel of judges and the least successful chef is “chopped”—sent home. Every few days my refrigerator begins to resemble those baskets as various odds and ends accumulate and need to be used up. Tonight I opened it and found: two thin eye round steaks, half a can of tomatoes, half a can of tomato paste, and a partial container of beef stock. Fortunately, unlike on the Food Network, there was no gotcha ingredient from left field. If I had the patience this could be the makings of good bracciole but I decided instead to just make a sauce, cook the steaks in it, and serve with polenta and broccoli. Simple, and now I have some room in the refrigerator.

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼-inch thick eye round steaks, about 4 to 5 ounces each
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 medium onion
  • ½ medium carrot
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 or 4 juice-pack canned plum tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • ½ can tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • ¼ cup dry red wine
  • Salt and freshly-ground pepper
  • ½ green bell pepper

Method

Put the steaks into a small bowl and pour on the vinegar coat each piece well. Set aside to marinate while you make the sauce.

Prepare a soffrito by chopping the one half of the onion, the carrot, and garlic. Do not worry about making them perfect since you will puree the sauce before using. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and sweat the soffrito until softened by not browned, about 4 or 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, herbs, and red pepper. Cook for a minute or two then add the tomato paste, stock, and wine. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the cover, raise the heat, and reduce for 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Slice the remaining half onion and the bell pepper. Remove the steaks from the vinegar and pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Set a cast iron skillet over high heat. When it starts to smoke add a bit of olive oil and sear the steaks for 2 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium and cook the onion and pepper until soft. Return the meat to the skillet and pour over the sauce. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.

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